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Dec 6, 2012

Healthy Living catching, treating and preventing flu

As the daily temperature gets lower and fluctuates, the frequency of the sniffles and coughs increases. But do granny’s home remedies and advice really work on the flu? Healthy Living, this week went on a myth busting mission on common beliefs about catching, treating and preventing the flu.

 

Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

In Belize, our Flu season usually begin in October and extends into the first quarter of the following in year, just when the cold fronts begin coming in. It’s usually around this time that there are countless tidbits of advice regarding staying warming and preventing a cold or flu. But how much of it is true? I checked win with Dr. Cecilio Eck at the Pediatric Center to find out more.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck, Pediatrician

Cecilio Eck

“All of these there are some truths and some false included in these.”

 

The first of all the advice you’ll hear is avoid the draft. It includes everything from wearing slippers on cold floors, dressing warm enough when it’s cold outdoors and do your best not to get caught in that early morning draft. So the question here is: Can cold weather or temperature cause you to get sick?

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“Yes, it does.  They did a study recently that proved that. They exposed some medical student to a draft by putting their feet a ice cold water and they followed them for two weeks and the ones who were exposed to that draft actually had a higher incidence of colds or flu during that two week period. The researchers then though that it’s not that because you’re expose to a draft you get exposed to more viruses but the fact that when you’re exposed to all viruses that me and you are bombarded with everyday the immune system cannot function as effectively as it would  have if you had not been exposed to the draft. They’re right to a certain degree it does make sense to cover up the kids and the adults when they go out when they know a cold front is coming in especially if there is some pre existing condition like asthma.”

 

So cloaking up when its cooler than normal does have its benefit. What about loading up on Vitamin C? That oranges & orange juice or even vitamin C supplements are the best defense to fight off that flu or cold. Dr. Eck says it may be all in your mind.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“The placebo effect is that if you feel that you are taking something that will work. The body is a wonderful thing and it starts to stimulate the immune system to fight it off. But they have taken and tested not only basic doses of vitamin C but also mega doses of Vitamin C and its never been proven to stop you from getting the flu; if you have the flu or the regular cold, to make you get over it quicker.”

 

What about taking your daily dose of Seven Seas? Most of us Belizean children never left for a day of school without it.  Cod Liver oil, fish oil, shark oil all contain fatty acids that are believed to ward off illnesses. But do they work?

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“With all of them it’s not that they don’t work. All these are essential fatty acids, essential vitamins that our body cannot produce.  We do know that when we are sick the body utilizes more of these to fight infections what I advise parents is that it’s not that it will stop you from getting ill. It will give your immune system the ammunition it needs to fight appropriately and more effectively when you’re sick.”

 

Another tool in every mom’s cold and flu defense kit: Vicks. For some moms, the small green jar of mentholated vapor rub was the panacea of all childhood illnesses; but, what does the doctor say about its use?

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“It’s been used for generations: you and I grew up on Vicks, bowl of steaming water, humid menthol impregnated air; makes you sleep better. The newer versions would be the humidifier and in younger kids don’t put it in any orifices it’s not meant to be swallowed.”

 

Last but certainly not least: The flu shot to vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“It makes sense; we are bombarded by the flu bug each year because all the parents bring their sick kids to see us. It has been proven to decrease you from getting a severe flu. Certainly it doesn’t protect you fully but if you do get the flu it causes a much milder illness than if you don’t get it.”

 

Keep in mind, many of us may be healthy enough to ward off a flu but there are some populations that must take it far more seriously.

 

Dr. Cecilio Eck

“In most healthy adults without any pre-existing conditions it shouldn’t harm you. The body is well equipped to handle with simple soups and warm stuff to get over the flu. People who are very young, the elderly people with pre-existing conditions like diabetes sickle cell, anemia, HIV where their immune system is already not as efficient as mine and yours a simple bout of flu could cause pneumonia, meningitis, will stop your respiratory system from working and many complications.”

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1 Response for “Healthy Living catching, treating and preventing flu”

  1. Storm says:

    Other countries have big vaccination campaigns this time of year. Maybe that’s something that our Minister of Health can check out to offer, at least to the most vulnerable of us, like children, elderly, and people with weak immune systems. It has been proved to save many lives elsewhere, and reportedly not too expensive.

    I’ve sadly had 2 close friends get the flu, develop pneumonia, and die within days, so I know the flu is a deadly threat.

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